Equipping Activists? How? What does that even mean?

This week I’d like to share some of the insight that helped form our mission statement:

Equipping anti-trafficking activists to unite their communities with one voice demanding, NO MORE… NOT HERE!

I mean how in the world can we be so bold as to suggest that a little ol’ community action group such as ours could somehow impact entire communities to rise up against human trafficking? P-U–L-E-A-S-E! However, if you listen to the larger national organizations like the Polaris Project (and we do!), they declare in no uncertain terms that the first step in combating human trafficking is empowering the community to understand and recognize the issue. And that is EXACTLY what our work is all about: educating others with accurate and current information.

Rodney Riggs, a special agent with Homeland Security Investigations, recently spoke at a human trafficking symposium in Detroit. He shared that the two ways people can help stop human trafficking is first, by becoming educated about it and then, to report suspicious activity. So as we move beyond being informed, how CAN concerned community members report what they suspect might be a possible trafficking situation WITHOUT putting themselves in harm’s way?

First, we need to understand that while sex trafficking is the most common form of human trafficking, forced labor and domestic servitude are also prevalent. The agriculture, restaurant and domestic service industries in our area are common avenues for forced servitude. Oftentimes it can be occurring right in front of our eyes. So here are some warning signs you can be looking for:

  • Someone inappropriately dressed
  • Appears submissive or fearful
  • Not able to speak for themselves, or answers sound rehearsed
  • No personal possessions, especially identity documents
  • Works excessively long or unusual hours

The list of red flag warnings is much more extensive, but should you think someone is involved in a human trafficking situation, you can immediately dial the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888 (888 3737 888). This hotline is run by the Polaris Project.

Please heed the caution to NEVER intervene directly: a call to the hotline keeps you safe while accomplishing the task of alerting law enforcement. And for those hesitant to make that call, Rodney Riggs offers some further advice, “Some people think, ‘Well, what if I call and I wasn’t right, or I misread a situation?’ There’s no backlash on the caller. There’s no harm in calling in and just reporting it.” Your call to the National Human Trafficking Hotline is COMPLETELY anonymous. They will take your information and then pass that info along to law enforcement in YOUR area.

So our mission to equip activists involves educating a growing number of community members to the reality that trafficking DOES exist right here in our midst, red flags they can be vigilant to detect, and if they suspect trafficking may be occurring, dialing the hotline. Our work can sometimes seem a painstaking process as we continue to persevere in gaining traction. But we hold fast to the belief that a tipping point CAN be reached whereby our community no longer tolerates ANY form of human trafficking: enough people are vested to keep their eyes alert and report any suspicious activity: that we are a united community with one voice demanding,

NO MORE… NOT HERE!

To close, I’m including a link to a YouTube video posted in 2014 that provides a peek into the National Human Trafficking Hotline offices. It is VERY informative and worth watching.

As always, please contact us if you know of a group interested in learning more about human trafficking. We accommodate all audiences and tailor our presentations to specifically address the information the group is seeking.

Thanks for reading and until next week… Ken out!

 

NATIONAL HUMAN TRAFFICKING HOTLINE

888 3737 888

How Polaris Project is using data to help victims of human trafficking

Published on January 21, 2014

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